Non-burning alternatives to fires on wildlands
will be assessed by characterizing their potential economic,
social, and political impacts.
Non-Burning Management Alternatives on Agricultural
Lands inthe Western United States.
Air emissions from burning agricultural residue, primarily
consisting of fine particles, can be a significant source
of air pollution on a short-term and intermittent basis.
These emissions can directly impact visibility in Class I
areas located near burns, or those Class I areas located
far away through regional transport. The Western Regional
Air Partnership (WRAP) and its Fire Emissions Joint Forum
(FEJF) sponsored this study to investigate the alternatives
to agricultural burning. The geographical scope of the project
included the 15 Western states of Alaska, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico,
Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
State as well as tribal lands within these states were assessed.
The objectives of this study, which were addressed in the
draft final document, included the following:
- Development of a crop production database and
an agricultural burning activity database for 1996;
- Identification of the "universe" of
potential non-burning management alternatives;
- Design of a methodology to asses the impacts
of alternatives (e.g., agronomic, environmental, economic);
- Identification of existing and potential accountability
mechanisms (e.g., smoke management programs, voluntary
versus mandatory programs, etc.) for tracking if, and which,
non-burning alternatives are used by local, state, tribal,
or federal entities; and
- Development of a plan for implementing alternatives
in the 15 Western states.
The crop production database was developed from data obtained
from the National and State Agricultural Statistics Service
(1996); other state reports (e.g., California Agricultural
Commissioner's Annual Report); and the Census of Agricultural
(1997). The agricultural burning activity database was developed
from data compiled by various agencies (e.g., San Joaquin
Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, Washington
Department of Ecology, Idaho Department of Environmental
Quality). For areas within the 15 Western states where agricultural
burning is known to occur, but activity data are not tracked
(e.g., Colorado, parts of Nevada, Montana), estimates of
burning activity (i.e., tons of residue burned) were made.
These estimates helped to provide a comprehensive database
for assessing potential non-burning alternatives, and to
assist in WRAP/FEJF emissions inventory efforts.
Analyses were conducted to determine the accountability
mechanisms in place throughout the Western states. These
mechanisms included a range of programs from agricultural
burning exemptions to requirements for pre-burn permits and
offers of financial assistance to implement non-burning alternatives.
Also, non-statutory barriers to implementation of non-burning
alternatives, such as political influences and cultural practices,
were examined. For the universe of non-burning alternatives
identified, impacts were identified and analyzed using criteria
developed to determine feasibility of impacts. These criteria
included issues such as soil compression resulting from soil
incorporation, and cost-effectiveness of implementing non-burning
practices as compared to burning residues. Guidelines and
recommendations pertaining to implementation of alternatives,
and a broader non-burning program, are made.